Nene Goal Not Enough As Blue Jays Fall In Season Opener

Photo By Caleb Maassen
Photo By Caleb Maassen

Fulton, MO, 9/1/21 – The Westminster College men's soccer team took the field tonight for the first time this season.  The Blue Jays were sporting a new look this season after graduating 12 key seniors from last year's team. The new look Jays battled throughout the night as they erased a 1-0 halftime deficit early in the second half but could not keep the momentum eventually falling to the Hannibal LaGrange University Trojans (HLGU) 3-1.  The Trojans evened their record at 1-1 and the Blue Jays fell to 0-1.

The Trojans would strike first. In the 18th minute when HLGU's Alejandro Garcia beat a defender and fired a shot that got past the Blue Jay keeper for the 1-0 lead.  The rest of the half the Blue Jays had some chances to score the equalizer and appeared that they had done just that when Blue Jay midfielder Freddy Nene (Columbia, MO / Rock Bridge) took a terrific through pass and buried what appeared to be the game tying goal.  Unfortunately for Nene and the Jays he was ruled offsides by the linesman.   The Trojans would preserve their one goal lead going to halftime up 1-0.

Five minutes into the second half the Blue Jays and Nene would not be denied. In the 51st minute senior midfielder Joe Wilder (Jefferson City, MO / Jefferson City) threaded the needle on a great pass that hit Nene in stride on the right side of the goal and his shot beat the Trojan keeper far post and the game was tied 1-1.

The Trojans used a couple fortunate bounces to their favor on their next two goals as deflected off of Westminster defenders settling right at the feet of the Trojans Jaume Garcia and Martin Gutierez who buried both of their opportunities in the 52nd minute and 68th minutes respectively for a 3-1 lead.

The Blue Jays wouldn't go down without a fight and had two great opportunities late.  In the 72nd minute senior forward Andrew Sprengel (Winfield, MO / Winfield) found himself one on one with the keeper.  As the Trojan keeper raced off his line towards the ball Sprengel ripped a shot that the keeper was able to lay out and make an absolutely incredible save to rob Sprengel and the Jays of a goal.  Nene found himself with the ball in front of the goal and ripped a shot in the 83rd minute that the keeper made another diving save on.  Those saves by Alvaro Rueda helped the Trojans stave off the Blue Jays 3-1.

The Blue Jays were outshot 18-5 overall and 9-3 on shots on goal.  HLGU took six corner kicks to Westminster's two.  The Blue Jay's will be back in action on Saturday September 4, 2021 when they travel to Illinois College for a 7:00 p.m. kick off.